It can be said with a fair amount of confidence that regulated US online poker has not gotten off to a great start. In New Jersey, the biggest state offering iPoker, the most-recent revenue report from April 2015 shows that online poker revenue has fallen over 30% to $1.98 million. The glaringly obvious problem here is that only three states offer the game, and only two of these (Delaware and Nevada) share player pools. So in order for iPoker to improve before 2016, there are three very important things that must happen.
1. California or New York needs to legalize Online Poker
California and New York have iPoker legislation on the table, and both states are very serious about the matter. The Golden State has actually been trying to hammer out a bill for the past few years. However, California has been unable to agree on online poker legislation that satisfies tribal gaming interests, racetracks, card rooms and PokerStars. As for New York, their bill was recently introduced, so we have yet to see what opposition there would be. In any case, one of these two states needs to decide on something because California (38.8m people) and/or New York (19.75m people) would give the US player pool a massive boost.
2. New Jersey must accept PokerStars’ Application
PokerStars (owned by Amaya Gaming) has been sitting on the sidelines ever since New Jersey launched their iGaming operation, because their application is suspended. Well, the overall online gaming market has been improving in the Garden State, but things aren’t booming – especially on the iPoker side. A big problem is just that the market hasn’t been totally effective at running huge tournaments and promotions that get people excited. But if New Jersey were to finally allow PokerStars into the fold, we can bet that Stars would find plenty of innovative ways to get more players interested. Additionally, if California legalized online poker, it would be an immense help if they included PokerStars in the market.
3. Pennsylvania needs to legalize iPoker
While Pennsylvania (12.8m people) may not be as big as California or New York, it is still a very large US state. In fact, assuming they were to legalize online gaming, they’d immediately double the market size, which only includes New Jersey (8.9m people), Nevada (2.9m) and Delaware (936k). One intriguing thing about the Keystone State’s favored iGaming bill is that it opens the way for interstate compacts. Assuming Pennsylvania were to enter the game, then New Jersey would suddenly be interested in sharing online poker players – something they’ve been unwilling to do with Nevada and Delaware so far.